Is there a socially conscious, ethically responsible way for publishers to pursue commerce revenue? Good Media Group is about to find out.
On June 19, the parent of Upworthy and Good Magazine will announce the launch of the Public Service Apparel Supply Company, or PSA Supply Co., a clothing brand created with Social Imprints, an ethical product manufacturing company.
PSA will begin with six product lines, including T-shirts ($29), pins ($10) and tote bags ($19) that bear positivity-focused slogans like “Hater Hater” and the date “Nov. 6” to remind people to vote in the midterm elections.
PSA is part of Good Media Group’s marketing and strategy group but draws from different departments, including editorial, marketing, creative and design. Social Imprints will handle PSA’s storage and fulfillment, while designers, editors and marketers at Good handle PSA’s creative side.
PSA is attached to some worthy causes. For the next three months, 10 percent of the proceeds will go to the Center for Community Change Action, a nonprofit that provides training, resources and networking assistance to grass-roots organizations and activists. The workforce at Social Imprints consists primarily of at-risk adults who have battled substance abuse and homelessness, or who lack high school diplomas.
In PSA, Good Media Group sees the chance to diversify its revenue and grow its brand beyond the internet as Facebook wanes as an audience builder and branded content distribution gets more expensive. Today, branded content accounts for 60 percent of its revenue. Its consultancy, which advises clients on how to operate more ethically and sustainably, drives another 25 percent; the rest comes from programmatic and other sources.
“Wearing a T-shirt or a button or a pin is the same as sharing a piece on Facebook or Twitter,” said Jenn Lindenauer, Good Media Group’s chief strategy and marketing officer. “It’s an opportunity to promote our shared values.”
PSA will be promoted on a standalone digital storefront and storefronts on both of Good Media Group’s sites. Both will routinely write stories about PSA’s partners and use paid promotion on social platforms, particularly Facebook, to get the products in front of people.
Good will also programmatically target site visitors reading stories about things that align with PSA and its mission. For example, a story about Rob Scheer, a onetime foster child who founded a nonprofit designed to give foster children backpacks, will have PSA ads appended to it.
The launch of PSA adds Good to a list of publishers including The New York Times and The Chive trying to use commerce to grow revenue by leveraging their audience’s passion for their brands. Over time, Lindenauer said she could see PSA becoming like a platform for designers, nonprofits and other third parties to sell cause- and issue-related merchandise.
“Culture is changing so fast,” Lindenauer said. “I can’t imagine that the idea of sharing your values doesn’t continue to be a high priority.”